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It’s been un longtemps and a day since I’ve posted, which means lots to catch up on even if you’re one of my kindly regular readers — let alone a newbie gamely bouncing on the blogwagon thanks to my recent Saveur Best Cocktail Blog nom (#believethatscalledahumblebrag #hinewbies).

Everything you need to know about my truancy, as well as my all-telling *general*outlook*on*life*, you can glean from the following statement: I feel acutely guilty that, thanks to uterus-subletting fetus, I’m not inclined to drink for you guys as much as I once did. Isn’t it awful how I’m letting y’all down, spending my current pregnancy largely away from alcohol? Without a coupe in her claw, who is this Blogtender personbot?

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The other fresh herb I needed to find use for after Thanksgiving was sage. Man, I do lovelovelove me some sage on a turkey or in a stuffing. (p.s. If you ever want my mother-in-law’s recipe for outside-the-bird stuffing, trust me, you do. Also p.s., stuffing is an underrated foodstuff for when you’re drunk.)

But sage in other places I had to think about, and then sniff about. Honestly, I wound up holding a bouquet of sage up to one nostril, various bottles of liquor to the other, and deciding which smells I thought went well together. (If there’s a hard and fast science to cocktail-making, somebody send me the equation. I’ve got 99 ways to come up with a cocktail, but a formula ain’t one.)

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My gosh, today kinda sucks, no? Not to rain (or snow, as it is up here in the Great White North) on anyone’s Thanksgiving Eve Parade, but this is always a busy and stressful day. What with the last-minute cleaning and shopping and cooking and fretting that your mother-in-law is going to get stuck in a snowbank somewhere north of Albany on her drive up to see you. And, even if you’re the self-employed, work-at-home type like me, the assignments you’re trying to get out the virtual door before getting yourself out your actual one, where walkway clearing awaits so Mom doesn’t kill herself on her way from her car to your apartment. Meanwhile, your dog won’t let you type at full speed because she likes her paw held while snuggling on the couch next to you, which results in typos like this one that just happened: “ci 980hkmn.”

Phew, *breathe*! My point is, I’ve got one more to-do to put on your list today, and it is worthwhile and it is this: Buy Underberg at your neighborhood’s finer liquor store. (Or Dean & Deluca.)

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There are two types of people in my worldview: Those who say today is Cinco de Mayo, and those who say today is Kentucky Derby Eve Eve.

I’m one of the latter — hence, the blog records today’s date as the second of Three Days of Julep — but I’m well aware that I’m in the minority. Luckily, I’ve found the perfect cocktail to cover both bases on this not-really-a-holiday-laden day. The Zihautanejo Julep is out of my Death and Co. stolen menu playbook, and it’s a julep made with tequila.

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Guest post by the very British Nick Leftley, senior editor at Maxim and a mate made for drinking with

A few months ago, I was out on a tequila-tasting night courtesy of the charming and spectacularly agave-obsessed folks at Don Julio. After tasting every variety of tequila they make (and at this point, I’d personally recommend the Don Julio 1942, an Anejo tequila that’s creamy, peppery and as good for sipping as most decent Scotches), master distiller Enrique de Colsa introduced us to the concept of the Luxury Drop.

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Something that’s often lost in the modern-day cocktail frenzy are these certain categories or types of drinks where the base liquor isn’t the potation’s (love that word!) defining characteristic. Consider, for example, the very word cocktail; in its nascence, it had a rather strict interpretation, but what made it strict wasn’t which type of liquor you used, but what else you put in the glass: A mixture of any liquor, sugar, water and bitters.

As another example, I’ve done a couple of swizzles on this site, and as I’ve discussed before, a swizzle means any drink made with a liquor, a liqueur, fruit juice and crushed ice. Some of these (categories? subgenres? I wish I knew better nomenclature for what I’m talking about — one of my cocktail books lists them in the back as “Versatile Cocktails”) you do find at places like Death & Company, which has the Robert Johnson Swizzle, and Employees Only, which makes a Ginger Smash. (A smash begins as a julep does, with muddled mint and sugar in the bottom of the glass, then ice. Some folks then say you just put in whatever liquor and you’re done; I’ve also seen that a little club soda with an orange-and-cherry garnish is needed to make it a proper smash. Having said all that, Employees Only pretty much just muddles and ices and calls theirs a smash.)

Smashes, shrubs, fizzes, swizzles, slings, flips, rickeys, fixes — I love this stuff! Today, we are going to talk about another Versatile Cocktail category/subgenre, the Stinger. A stinger is basically made by adding a half-ounce of white creme de menthe to a shot of liquor… I will wait a moment to allow for any unintended gag reflexes. I know it sounds bad, but really it’s not!

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Remember when I first started this blog and for a scant time held weekly “You Name It!” contests for as-yet-unchristened cocktails? Don’t worry, it’s okay that you don’t. The point is, naming cocktails is not my forte.

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I’ve yet to mention scotch on this blog. There are a couple of reasons why. One: Bourbon exists, so what’s the point? Two: Scotch precipitates a taste-memory flashback to my first year of living in New York, specifically the hours between midnight and 5 a.m. of that year, a year I’m happy to leave fuzzy, hazy and behind.

Back then I was interning at a magazine during the day, waiting tables at the now-defunct Bottom Line at night, then spending several hours and most of the tips I’d just earned at some of Greenwich Village’s finest last-ditch saloons along with my Bottom Line co-workers, most of whom I haven’t been able to recall by name for over a decade. My go-to drink during those lost mornings was scotch and soda — a highball I settled on solely because it was the most grown-up-seeming thing I could think of to order. I was 22, recently graduated from a fancy-name college and hanging with middle-aged, stage-crew guys sporting frazzled, gray hair and incomplete sets of teeth.  I wanted to fit in.

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Upholding my week-long commitment to exploring the far reaches of Alexandria, today I find myself a bit of a stranger in a strange land — that land being Tequilaville.

I have never cottoned to tequila, and I’ve never felt like I’ve missed out on much as a consequence, except perhaps further burdening my trove of already-embarrassing-enough drunken tales/tally of inexplicable scars (two; one just south of my lower lip, the other craggy across the top of one foot). If bourbon tastes like adult fun, then tequila tastes like legal troubles. It’s antagonistic-tasting. It’s too in-my-face, and even when I’m doing nothing more innocent than enjoying a margarita, I often believe that tequila’s devilish essence is asseverating itself from beneath its blanket of lime, sugar and salt, rather than just commingling nicey-nice in the glass like a base liquor is supposed to.

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